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  2013.06.07  23.38
Compendium problems

If you've been trying to download the Forgotten Futures Compendium and having problems, many apologies. It was one of the directories affected by the site problems earlier this year, and somehow got missed when I fixed the damaged files. The link should now work properly.


  2013.04.09  19.56
Charity update

I'm sorting out my finances for the last financial year, including the money I've raised for charity over the last few months.

Forgotten Futures has raised exactly £91 for Cancer Research UK, which I've topped up to £100 and donated today, taking the total raised to date to £2094.50 - since these donations have qualified for Gift Aid the true value to the charity is over £2600.

Sales of The Original Flatland Role Playing Game have continued to be poor, raising only $57.60 (about £37.61) for Doctors Without Borders; I've topped this up to £40 and donated it, taking the total raised to £255 plus gift aid.

Finally, another reminder that my old home-page
is a "dead" site - I can't update anything on it apart from this news, a lot of the information on it, including all contact details, is out of date, but the hosting company won't take it down. PLEASE use


  2013.02.03  00.35
The Pulpomizer!

The Pulpomizer! You never knew you wanted it, but you do...

And this is the sort of thing it does...

I suspect that I shall be making use of this in e.g. adverts for games at cons etc.


  2013.01.24  15.17

On the 22nd of January my sites (and I believe others at the same hosting company) were hacked by someone using an FTP exploit to access files with the name index.htm and replace them with a Javascript Trojan. This didn't come to my attention until the afternoon of the 24th, for which many apologies; I hope that nobody has had a problem as a result of this. If you did try to access my sites and got a blank page, I must urge you to run a full virus scan immediately! Fortunately this should not have affected direct links to most of the fiction, articles, etc. on the site; almost all of the pages affected were used for navigation around the site, not contents.

I've now gone through the sites and restored all of the damaged files I can find; I believe that everything is now working properly, but if you notice any broken links etc. please bring them to my attention. Please let me know at once if I've missed any of these Javascript pages.

To prevent this happening again the hosting company has disabled FTP file uploading, from now on I will be using the secure FTPS protocol. I've also changed all passwords and made them considerably harder to crack, and deleted email accounts which are no longer used.

Once again, my apologies; I hope that everything is now OK and will do my best to keep it that way.


  2012.12.24  00.36
Season's Greetings

This year's online Xmas card is here

It's about 560K, hope you'll enjoy it!


  2012.11.11  18.17
No more Usenet presence

My current ISP doesn't offer a free Usenet feed, so I've been using a paid feed. But for one reason and another I rarely look at Usenet and don't really have the time or patience to keep up with things. My subscription ends soon, with regrets I've decided to let it lapse.

Any news for Forgotten Futures and my other RPGs will be posted to my web site:

The feed for this is an insanejournal account
The same news is posted to a livejournal account

Finally, my day to day blog is


  2012.10.26  21.09
Dragonmeet Adventures

These are the adventures I should be running at Dragonmeet at the beginning of December.

System - Forgotten Futures
Adventure Title - The Ether Thieves
Adventure Description - In the 23rd Century the Anglo-Saxon Empire's economy depends on elemental forces extracted from the Ether. When the crew of the trawler Nostromo learn that the ether in their allotted area of space has been badly depleted, it's time to look for the culprits. Load the guns, me hearties, and sing a space shanty or two as we track them down...
Note - this is a play-test of a setting and adventure still in development, occasional rough patches are possible.

System - Diana: Warrior Princess
Adventure Title - Monster Mash
Adventure Description - America, the 1950s. You just want to meet with your friends, chug a few beers or some blood or brains, and maybe go out and terrorize the neighbourhood a little. But the locals seem to have weird objections. Well, that's what being a monster is all about, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but somehow it always hurts. But not as much as you're going to hurt the locals...
Note - this is a play-test of a system variant and adventure still in development, occasional rough patches are possible.

Hope I'll see some of you there.


  2012.09.25  19.40
Tooth and Claw - UK Edition

I'm very pleased to say that there is finally to be a UK edition of Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, the source for Forgotten Futures X. If you haven't already read it, you really should; it's a fantastic little book.


  2012.08.21  20.16
Long-range engines for the Weinbaum universe

In FF XI it isn't easy to design ships capable of reaching Pluto and returning without various fudges such as in-flight refuelling, drop tanks, etc. which don't seem to fit in the spirit of Weinbaum's original stories.

Following some discussion, Rob Garitta has suggested a couple of fixes - Long Range Engines, which convert fuel more efficiently but can't put out huge amounts of thrust, and some support infrastructure for the premier pirate, Red Peri:

I'd like to suggest the following fudge: long range engines. They are limited to .015 gees cruising speed and a maximum emergency speed of 1.5 gees. They cost +50% and weigh +25% (coincidentally the same as racing engines!) When cruising the ship uses fuel half as fast. Long range engines can't also be racing engines. Frank Keene's ship and the Uranus expeditions probably used in flight fuel transfers as you said. The Peri probably has fueling facilities on Pluto.

In the case of the Red Peri I made up the following:
Peri MacIane (genius that he was) produced the tetrahedral design for the stability it affords making a wilderness landing. Three points define a plane and panding gear mounted at each corner and a center firing engine would make the ship nearly impossible to roll. In addition he designed the engine mountings to allow the quick change of several engines. So the Peri has a long range and racing engine for her ship at each base and mounts the proper engine for the job. She might even have several engines in a major base using uranium, radium or protactinium according to available fuel. The result to League investigators is that her ship seems to be able to go anywhere and catch anything.

I'm assuming she had/has several bases with additional engines, one on Pluto (that she moved to Uranus thanks to Keene), one on the dark side of Venus, and one on Iapetus.

Both of these ideas work - in the case of the long range engine use the design rules and template; select racing engine but maximum thrust must be 0.15g, maximum emergency thrust must be 1.5g, and halve the fuel consumption. I'd suggest that referees come up with their own locations for the Peri's base (if it still exists) since players may read this.

One thing I would suggest adding is that the difficulty of piloting rolls during take-off and landing should be +1, since there is so little power to play with. Getting caught by cross-winds would be seriously bad news.

This is a neat fix which doesn't unbalance things too badly, since most players will want a faster flight on the shorter routes. I recommend it, but make sure that players know that there are disadvantages.


  2012.08.09  21.34
Congenial - and possibly off line over the weekend

I'll be at Congenial, the Unicon / RPG con in Cambridge, over the weekend.

Please note that I may not be on line much during the convention - the site apparently won't have WiFi, and I'll be dependent on public access points etc. This may lead to delays in processing Forgotten Futures registrations and other mail etc., for which many apologies.

I'm currently involved in three programme items, all on Saturday:

Saturday 11:00, Council Room: So you want to be a Mad Scientist?
Two teams of would-be mad scientists compete to prove which are the bright sparks, and which are the missing links. It's not rocket science, it's a silly game brought to you by Peter Wareham and Gwen Funnell.

Saturday 13:00, Council Room: … never survives contact with the players
How to cope with this, and work around it, while always remembering the players’ inevitable combination of twisted ingenuity and failing to spot the bloody obvious.

Saturday 17:00, Long Room: Only Connect
A quiz about connections, presented by Diana Cox.

At some point I hope to run two scenarios - probably Jellystone (for a fanfic RPG I'm developing based on Diana: Warrior Princess rules, and Bone Hunters (previous title Marooned on Jupiter) for Forgotten Futures. I ran both at Dragonmeet last year, and Marooned... at Continuum three weeks ago, but hopefully there will be some players there who don't know them.

Hope I'll see some of you there!


  2012.06.18  14.25
Summer conventions

I'll be at two university RPG cons in July and August:

Continuum in Leicester on July 20th-23rd. I've only booked a few days ago and haven't received confirmation of my membership yet, so this is not 100% definite, but I can't think of any reason why it won't happen. Guests include Robin D. Laws.

Congenial, which is a university SF convention combined with the British Role Playing Society RPG convention, at Murray Edwards College (formerly New Hall, Cambridge), on 10th-12th August. Guests include Phil and Kaja Foglio.

I'll probably run a couple of games at each con, but I'm not sure what at this stage - probably something for Forgotten Futures, and something using the Diana-based Fanfic RPG idea I'm developing. I'm not going to be launching anything new.

Both of these are fun conventions at excellent sites, and I've greatly enjoyed their predecessors. I hope I'll see some of you there.


  2012.05.29  07.10
Cookies, Privacy Policy, and Advertising

A new page covering use of cookies and other privacy issues has been added to the sites I maintain; click on the link at the top left when you open the site, or click here to read it now:

As always a reminder that I am no longer able to make changes to my old NTLWorld web site, and really don't know what goes on under the hood there, including cookies - PLEASE don't use it.


  2012.05.25  18.08
A little light reading...

Queen Victoria's diaries have been put on line - all 40,000+ pages of them!

As usual, a reminder to open this in a new page or tab, you'll need full screen width.

The pages are scans, mostly of the Queen's writing or copies made by Princess Beatrice, although some entries were apparently typed up by Lord Esher - all extant versions are included. This sometimes means that some apparently boring days exist in several versions, while e.g. the first assassination attempt (june 10th 1840) is only in Princess Beatrice's copy, and is occasionally difficult to read. But it's a staggeringly complete record of the period from a unique viewpoint, and well worth a look if the period interests you.


  2012.02.22  01.30 problem

There is currently a problem with this site - some direct links to files won't work. I think that this may be a domain registration foulup, or something wrong with the way that is hosted - I won't have time to do much about it before the weekend. In the meantime you can access all files by going to the front page of and using the links in that page.



  2012.02.19  14.15
Reminder - dead web site and email addresses

Just another reminder that

is a "dead" web page - I can't update it, and a lot of the information on it, including all contact details, is out of date, but for some reason the hosting company won't take it down. In particular, email addresses at Cix, Demon, and are all now out of date.

PLEASE update your links if you are still getting this page as my web site!

Everything that was at my old site is now at


  2012.02.04  16.51
Sir Howard Vincent's Police Code (1912)

I've put the complete text of Sir Howard Vincent's Police Code on my web site. It's the 15th (1912) edition of a compact guide to law, conduct, etc. for London policeman, by the man who founded Scotland Yard's CID (Criminal Investigation Department). It was used as a reference by all of the UK's police forces, and adapted to many Commonwealth forces. It should be useful to anyone researching or writing about the UK police or gaming in this period, and much of it undoubtedly applies to British police forces from the Victorian era well into the 1920s-30s. To make it easier to use I've adapted the index which now has several THOUSAND links to entries, and put several hundred links into the text.

I've had a lot of help correcting this, but undoubtedly some OCR and formatting errors etc. remain, if you spot anything that looks wrong please let me know.


  2012.01.04  22.16
An interesting early interplanetary voyage.

Someone recently brought an 1847 pamphlet to my attention:

Edited by J. L. RIDDELL, M.D.

Which is basically a "serious scientific paper" about experiments with something that sounds a lot like Cavorite, which pre-dates Wells by 54 years.

I've put it on line here.


  2011.12.21  00.12
Season's Greetings

My online card is... err... on line here:

Version for double-sided printing, fold in two

Version for single-sided printing, fold in four

Illustration only

You will probably want to open these in separate tabs or windows.


  2011.11.01  23.37
Dragonmeet Games

These are the games I'm planning to run at Dragonmeet 2011 on November 26th

Forgotten Futures XII - Empire of Earth
Playtest of a new setting
Frog Day Afternoon
2240 AD - With the 450th anniversary of Bastille Day approaching, and the Anglo-Saxon Empire still recovering from its war with Sirius, the government fears that French terrorists will take advantage of perceived weaknesses to make another attempt to revive the "glories" of their long-dead nation. Your mission, should you choose to accept...
4-6 players, 3 hours(ish)

Fanfic The Role Playing Game
Diana Warrior Princess rules, Playtest
The season's premiere of an exciting new action-adventure series: when poachers kill Jellystone Park's mascot and several park rangers, an elite team must be found to replace them. But there may be bigger problems than poachers...
4-6 players, 3 hours(ish)

Hope I'll see some of you there


  2011.10.14  23.22
Science Fiction Encyclopaedia on Line in Beta Text

The third (web) edition of the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction (Clute etc.), possibly the most authoritative general-purpose source on SF, went on line in beta text earlier this week. Currently roughly 3.2 out of 4.2 million words are accessible, the rest is being uploaded as it's completed. For example, I'm referenced in a few entries, most notably one about Forgotten Futures, but there isn't an article called "Marcus Rowland" yet, and there are still a lot of articles that haven't yet been updated from the second edition, acting as place-holders for their eventual replacements.

Estimated completion date is the end of next year, but enough is already on line to be VERY useful, and the gaming content has been expanded immensely.

At the moment what they mainly need is bug reports; not so much omissions, which are only to be expected at this stage, but things like links that go to the wrong entry, weird behaviour, etc. But before sending anything in. PLEASE read the information on the news page etc. so that you know what the current issues are.


  2011.10.06  22.14
Maps of London

Pointed out by Ben Goldacre in his non-medical blog (the other is his Bad Science site which I thoroughly recommend), a very large collection of maps of London of various eras:

And a similar collection of maps for Scotland


  2011.08.09  20.08
More Victorian SF

I've added another Victorian story to my web site. Within an Ace of the End of the World By Robert Barr is another exciting story of the end of the world, this time a man-made disaster. This story will be added to the next release of the FF CD-ROM.

This one is heavily illustrated, and is best viewed in a separate browser window.


  2011.07.24  22.14
Farewell NTLworld

Over the next few weeks I will be changing my personal ISP; this means, amongst other things, that my current NTLworld email address will no longer work.

The address I will be using for most things can be found on this page (Open in a separate window)

Please note that to deter spambots the mailto link is obfuscated and can only be read if you have javascript enabled.

This will eventually mean that the online collection of pages from the Army and Navy Stores Catalogue currently hosted on a Virgin site (see previous entries) will be closed - I'll try to find a home for it on my main site, but this probably means I won't be able to add many more pages.


  2011.06.19  23.33
Consternation Adventures

These are the adventures I should be running at Consternation, the RPG etc. convention at New Hall Cambridge on August 19th-21st.

Fanfic The Role Playing Game (Diana Warrior Princess rules, Playtest)
They Saved Milton Keynes

When disaster threatens, the Hacker government calls in a top team of experts to save Britain (and just possibly the world). After all, how hard can it be?
Please note - this is the same adventure I ran at Dragonmeet, with some rules modifications, and I've discussed it on Livejournal (and written the fanfic!) - please don't sign up if you know the plot!

Forgotten Futures XII - Empire of Earth (Playtest of a new setting)
Manifest Destiny

2150 AD - As the Anglo-Saxon Empire expands into space, a group of patriotic Americans decides that it's time to restore the full glory of the Stars and Stripes on another world. As the "Wagon train to the stars" assembles, will the Empire be supportive - or try to ensure that their brave new world never gets off the ground?

Forgotten Futures XII - Empire of Earth (Playtest of a new setting)
Frog Day Afternoon

2240 AD - With the 450th anniversary of Bastille Day approaching, and the Anglo-Saxon Empire still recovering from its war with Sirius, the government fears that French terrorists will take advantage of perceived weaknesses to make another attempt to revive the "glories" of their long-dead nation. Your mission, should you choose to accept...


  2011.05.08  07.49
Empire of Earth

This is a talk I gave at the UK national SF convention this Easter

I recommend opening it in a new window or tab since some of the illustrations are fairly big.

Empire of Earth
Victorian and Edwardian Military SF


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